Friday, January 27, 2017

Two Imaginative Approaches to Improvisation on the Same Night

Next month those with a taste for innovative approaches to improvisation are likely to be faced with a difficult choice. Two programs in which such improvisation figures significantly will take place at almost exactly the same time. The only approach that will be fair to readers will be to present the two options side-by-side.

The next concert to be presented by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) will involve a highly imaginative approach to rethinking a classic. That classic is “L’Histoire du soldat” (the soldier’s tale), in which Igor Stravinsky composed music for seven musicians that would supplement a narrative written by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz requiring three actors and one or several dancers. However, the SFCMP production will involve only musicians. Stravinsky’s score will be performed by Hrabba Atladottir (violin), Richard Worn (bass), Jeff Anderle (clarinet), Dana Jessen (bassoon), Brad Hogarth (trumpet), Brendan Lai-Tong (trombone), and Christopher Froh (percussion).

However, both the dramatic action and much of Ramuz’ text will be replaced by improvised interpolations. Collectively entitled “Lover’s War,” these improvisational sections will be led by trumpeter Peter Evans; but he will be only a part of an ensemble of improvisers. The other members of that ensemble will be Kyle Bruckmann on oboe, Ritwik Banerji on tenor saxophone, India Cooke on violin, and three percussionists: William Winant, Steven Schick, and Nava Dunkelman. (Readers familiar with Dunkelman may recall that she gave a solo account of the percussion part from two of the scenes of Igor Stravinsky’s score for the ballet “Les noces,” whose score specified two groups of percussion instruments, in June of 2014.)

This concert will be presented in Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 17. Once again, ticket-holders may attend an informal pre-concert discussion with the musicians led by SFCMP Artistic Director Steven Schick. This will begin at 6:45 p.m. In addition there will be two events free and open to the general public during the afternoon, which will also take place at Herbst. The first will be an open dress rehearsal beginning at 4 p.m. This will be followed by the second event at 4:30 p.m., when Evans will discuss the topic “How Music is Made,” facilitated by Schick. General admission for the concert will be $35 with a $15 rate for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.

The second event may be of greater interest to jazz lovers, but it will be an approach to improvised jazz that is deeply influenced by the contrapuntal textures of modern chamber music. The group will be led by trumpeter Ian Carey, who has had an ongoing interest in blurring the lines between improvised and composed material in order to create an atmosphere of unpredictability and surprise. Carey has supplemented his interest in jazz with a love of two twentieth-century composers, Stravinsky (again) and Paul Hindemith. He will perform with his quintet, whose other members are Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Adam Shulman on piano, Fred Randolph on bass, and Hamir Atwal on drums. On this occasion the quintet will be joined by Steven Lugerner playing both bass clarinet and baritone saxophone.

This rather unique approach to jazz improvisation will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 17. The performance will take place in the Community Music Center (CMC) Concert Hall, which is located at 544 Capp Street, between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue and between 20th Street and 21st Street. Admission will be $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. This will be the latest installment in the Jazz in the Neighborhood concert series to be hosted by CMC. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the hyperlink to this concert on the Jazz in the Neighborhood events Web page.

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